April 15, 2011

New Drug for Epileptic Seizures

By Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new drug could provide hope for people who suffer from epileptic seizures. The drug, called perampanel, may significantly reduce seizures in people with hard-to-treat epilepsy.

More than 2 million Americans suffer from epileptic seizures. The episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and can greatly disrupt a person's everyday life. However, the first clinical trial to test a 12-milligram dose of the new drug found it could be a powerful tool to help combat the episodes.

For the study, Jacqueline French, M.D., study author and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology with New York University in New York, and her colleagues examined 387 participants with hard-to-control epilepsy who were taking up to three other anti-seizure drugs. Every day, for 19 weeks, the individuals were given either eight or 12 milligrams of perampanel or a placebo pill in addition to their regular treatment.

Researchers found patients who took the 12-milligram dose were able to reduce their seizure frequency by 14-percent in a 28-day period compared to the patients with placebo. There was about a 6-percent reduction in patients who took the 8-milligram dose.

"The most significant finding is that the drug, perampanel, is effective as add-on therapy in treatment-resistant patients. This will provide another option for these patients who are very difficult to treat. There is a second confirmatory study ongoing," Dr. French told Ivanhoe.

Similar to other anti-seizure drugs, perampanel does come with side effects. Some of the most common are dizziness, drowsiness, irritability, headache, and lack of muscle coordination. Researchers say the drug is both safe and proved to be effective. They plan to submit perampanel to the FDA for approval.

Source: The American Academy of Neurology, April 13, 2011